Review: House of Yes

by Lynn on September 28, 2015

in The Passionate Playgoer

At the Storefront Theatre, 955 Bloor St. W, Toronto, Ont.

Written by Wendy Macleod
Directed by Benjamin Blais
Scenography by Claire Hill
Lighting by Melissa Joakim
Sound by Dan Spurgeon
Choreography by Ashleigh Powell
Cast: Jakob Ehman
Carter Hayden
Joanne Kelly
Karen Knox
Joy Tanner

Wendy Macleod’s wild and hairy tale of ‘twinsest’, Kennedy-family obsession, family devotion run amok.

The Story. Jacqueline Pascal (‘Jackie-O’ to her family) has just gotten out of a mental institution where she was for her own good and safety. Jacqueline is fragile minded. She’s obsessed with Jackie Kennedy and dresses as she did on that fateful day in November 1963—pink Chanel suit, pink pillbox hat. Jacqueline is also obsessed with her twin brother Marty. She and brother Marty would playact the shooting of John Kennedy, with Jacqueline holding the gun and firing. The last time they played the game the gun was loaded. Oooops. Marty was rushed to hospital for surgery and Jacqueline was rushed to another kind of hospital.

Marty hadn’t been home to see the family in about six months so he drops by for a visit, bringing ‘a friend.’ When Jacqueline is introduced to Marty’s ‘friend’ Lesley she is told that Lesley is Marty’s fiancée. This unhinges Jacqueline. The family is on high alert. Added to this is that there is a tornado raging outside the family’s swank home in Washington D.C.

The Production. Scenographer Claire Hill works her magic to create a setting and atmosphere seemingly from nothing but several strips of shiny material that sways in the wind and some cunningly designed furniture. The furniture is on a ‘revolve’ that needs people power to move it, but it’s a quick way of going from the living room to the bedroom and back.

Director Benjamin Blais gets right into the wildness of the piece that goes like the wind, almost as if the tornado is propelling it. These people are crazed in one way or another, with Marty and Lesley being close to normal. The production is part Grey Gardens with the matriarch Mrs. Pascal holding court, drink always in hand, drawling her lines into an elegant accent. And certainly as wonderfully played by Joy Tanner, wearing a turban, and flowing layers of rich-looking clothes, Tanner adds a touch of Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard to the mix. It’s an irresistible performance. Also compelling is Joanne Kelly as Jacqueline (Jackie-O). She is just a bit crazed but desperate to hold on to reality and slipping. Kelly never plays for laughs and is always serious and is quite emotional in the last minutes of the play. As Marty, Carter Hayden is stylish, charming and adjusted when he arrives with his fiancée Leslie. But he too slips into his brotherly routine with his sister that is spooky.

Poor Lesley has fallen into a family of loons and Karen Knox plays her as a woman who slowly realizes that all is not right with these people. With Antony, the other brother, she tries to be understanding, but the guy is so odd, appearing out of nowhere and wanting to be so cloyingly close, that she finally has to tell him to back off. As Anthony, Jakob Ehman adds another off-the-wall-character to his roster of impressively idiosyncratic creations. Anthony tries to swagger by bending his knee so that his foot can rest on the arm of a chair and he can lean into the stretch, perhaps giving a sense of machismo to the pose, and not really pulling it off. It’s a quirky performance and it’s hilarious, as are they all.

Produced by The Storefront Arts Initiative.

Opened: September 24, 2015
Closes: October 11, 2015
Cast: 5: 2 men, 3 women
Running Time: 80 minutes.

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